Monday, November 28, 2022

Diageo launches innovation fund to help mitigate climate change in smallholder farms in Africa

Diageo has revealed £450k of funding for three innovations intended to lessen and monitor the impact of water and climate crises on smallholder farms in Africa.

Smallholder farmers are highly vulnerable to weather changes and water scarcity arising from climate change. As part of its Society 2030: Spirit of Progress ESG action plan, Diageo is building resilience in its communities and monitoring its farming programmes to preserve natural resources.

Diageo Sustainable Solutions launched in November 2020 to foster collaboration between Diageo and innovators on the next generation of sustainability technology. The objective of the global programme is to discover and develop innovators and technology that can help Diageo achieve its sustainability goals by 2030. Current pilots underway from previous application rounds include a partnership with EXXERGY, Dassault Systemes and Ardagh group to develop a coating to make glass thinner without losing its strength to reduce emissions and the resources needed.

Innovators, start-ups and those who have developed relevant technology in other sectors, or who need seed funding to further develop their technology, are invited to apply. The three challenges are now open for applications until Friday 7th October.

The three challenges will focus on:

  • Water: Over the next 50 years, rainfall in Africa is projected to decrease1 by 10–20% or more, threatening to undermine global progress toward poverty alleviation, food security, and sustainable development. It is imperative that soil water holding capacity and monitoring is greatly improved on smallholder farms to maximise productivity. Relevant solutions could include soil additives for water retention, hyper-local weather forecasting, or probes for taking readings from the field.
  • Carbon: Carbon is critical to soil function and productivity, and a main component of and contributor to healthy soil conditions but can also be released in the atmosphere by agricultural practices. There is a need to improve the soil carbon measurement, modelling, interpretation and monitoring to quantify the amount of carbon in the soil and support soil health improvements. Relevant solutions could include remote monitoring for landscape-scale intelligence, modelling carbon sequestration linked to land management and spectral devices.
  • Biodiversity: Biodiversity and climate are two sides of the same coin and biodiversity is vital to mitigating and adapting to climate change. It is vital that biodiversity measuring also improves so it’s possible to track the types and changes in biodiversity throughout time. Relevant solutions could include camera trapping, co-operative models working with smallholder farmers and on farm or remote data collection practices.

Commenting, Kirstie McIntyre, global sustainability director, said: “Even under the 1.5c trajectory called for by the Paris Agreement, farmers in the southern hemisphere will need help to adapt to climate change. Our next Diageo Sustainable Solutions round will create action for innovators around the world to help save lives and livelihoods in the countries and communities that are most at risk.”

The pilots will be taking place in East Africa and if successful will be rolled out across Diageo’s smallholder farmer network across Cameroon, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania, Turkey, the Seychelles, South Africa and Uganda.

John Cant, head of Diageo Sustainable Solutions, said: “Globally, we have unpredictable weather with increasing droughts and floods and a gap in our agriculture monitoring capabilities. Soil moisture monitoring must be improved so we can look at where we can improve soil water holding capacity, supporting our farmers to maintain a steady farming cycle and income.”

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